England wicket-keeper Ben Foakes claimed that India have been ‘pushing conditions to the extremities’ and insisted that the visitors know that, come the fourth Test, they will be provided with yet another rank turner. Foakes further described the last two wickets as the hardest he’s ever kept on.
After getting outplayed across five days in the first Test, India needed at least two more wins to be in contention for the World Test Championship, and thus, risking everything, the hosts decided to go the rank-turner way to get the better of the Three Lions. The ploy ended up working exceedingly well as India managed to fold England under 200 across 4 innings and win the second and third Tests comprehensively, but, nevertheless, there has been endless debate about the integrity of the pitches prepared by the hosts.
A draw in the final Test will be enough to take India to the WTC final, but England wicket-keeper Ben Foakes insisted that the visitors are not expecting a flat wicket and ‘know’ that the ball will once again turn from the first over. He also added that India have been ‘pushing conditions to the extremities’ by dishing out raging turners.
"I don't think we're concerned. We know what we're going to get and I guess they're pushing their conditions to the extremities. We know it's going to spin considerably from ball one so it's about trying to find a way to play well in those conditions and understand they're going to be challenging," Foakes said in a virtual press conference on Sunday.
"Obviously, we got thoroughly outplayed. Those were tricky conditions, but they played well. They have a couple of class spinners and we did not have answers to them so I think going forward, we have to be good enough to counter that to score big runs on the board.”
Foakes did not play in the first Test but featured in the side in the second and third Tests, where he was near-flawless behind the stumps. The Surrey wicket-keeper put on an exhibition with the gloves and, famously, did not concede a single bye in the first innings of the second Test, where India piled on 329 runs. As per his own admission, however, the wickets in the second and third games were the toughest ones he’s ever kept on, owing to the different challenges they threw.
"The last two games have been the hardest pitches I've kept on. They've been challenging and the last game, I think it was to do with the pink ball, the amount it was skidding on or spun, I'd probably never experienced a wicket like that before. So it was a good challenge to keep on and I guess it was one I enjoyed."
England, in this series, have now been bowled out under 200 for 5 consecutive innings and both the Indian spinners, Ashwin and Axar, have spun a web around the visiting batsmen. The visitors’ confidence has clearly been dented, but Foakes is hopeful that England can brush aside the mental scars and try their level best to walk away with a series draw.
"(We're) trying to keep a positive, clear mindset because when you're struggling your judgement can get clouded and things can go badly. It's about trying to keep a clear mind, stick to the gameplans and be slightly more positive at times if the situation dictates, but trying to come up with a game plan that potentially works on that surface now we've had experience of what it was like in the last game.
"We're still in a position to draw (the series), we are in with a chance of a pretty awesome achievement if we win this last one. It's going to be difficult knowing the kind of surface we're going to play on but we have just got to be better than we were in the last game.”